SA tennis legends rue sad day

2012-05-15 17:30

Johannesburg - Former South African Davis Cup stalwarts and Wimbledon doubles semi-finalists Abe Segal and Gordon Forbes have described the decision of Tennis SA (TSA) to surrender the right to stage the Davis Cup World Group playoff against Canada as a sad day for SA sport.

"I don't think too many of the 185 member nations of the International Tennis Federation, let alone a country with a proven history in the sport like South Africa, would have made a decision like this," Segal said on Tuesday.

"Imagine Arsenal being drawn at home in a soccer cup tie against Manchester United and then requesting the match be staged at Old Trafford."

Forbes, who filled the post of president of the SA Tennis Association at one stage, said he sympathised with the TSA administration "because I had personal experience of how difficult it has become to secure sponsorship for tennis in the country, and I'm sure they did their best."

TSA waived the right to host the world-class Milos Raonic and his Canadian team-mates, citing the inability to secure the required sponsorship of approximately R1.5 million.

"We tried everyone - the government, the private sector, the TV companies and affluent individuals who we hoped would be sympathetic," said TSA president Bongani Zonde.

"But no money was forthcoming."

Segal said it was laughable that a country like South Africa could not raise the relatively modest amount to stage an event with the long-term potential benefits which could emerge from staging a World Group playoff.

"South Africa was a force in world tennis in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s and the sport was thriving in the country," Segal said.

"We attracted the best players in the world to the country, instead of turning them away."

Ian Smith, the TSA chief executive, said it was not a case of the organisation being bankrupt.

"But our funds are strictly limited and we had to weigh up whether it was worth spending more money on the Davis Cup at the expense of development projects and such-like," Smith said.


  • johnson.petert - 2012-05-15 17:30

    And what would have seeing someone like Milos Raonic live done for the youngsters in SA?? Very shorted sighted

  • Squeegee - 2012-05-15 17:39

    Unbelievable. Speechless.

  • Deon - 2012-05-15 17:42

    'the egg or the chicken'................a davis cup tournament or the development project! Tough call Either way they're not going to succeed. Glad to hear forbes acknowledges the difficulty tennis sa has in raising funds, because just about to say why dont all the ex-national players get together and do something about the situation. Johan Kriek has indicated that he is burning to give something back to sa tennis and would support his home country but has never been approached by anybody locally. Surely there should be others as well.....(segal and all) It shows the state of a country when they are'nt able to host international events

  • Pagel - 2012-05-15 17:51

    It is beyond comprehension that R1.5 million could not be raised. That is why we will loose Kevin Anderson to the US - and so the vicious circle continues.

  • Shaun - 2012-05-15 17:53

    Does anyone know what TSA president Bongani Zonde is paid?

  • EISHMAN - 2012-05-15 18:02

    difficult times ahead for the minor sports in sa, mtn pulled out of tennis and put their money into the lions rugby, maybe not so clever in hindsight, vodacom have rugby sewn up, so where to now ? tennis is lose it's appeal, a diffiult game to learn with no role models to inspire the youth, need some involvement from the sports minister

      Pagel - 2012-05-15 19:42

      Problem is that there is no coverage of tennis on SABC. I'd watch a Wimbledon final before a S15 final any day - that is just me and I know I am a minority here. But if it was more visible it would have more of a following etc ..... Vicious circle indeed.

  • Hannes Truter - 2012-05-15 18:09


  • Steve Elske - 2012-05-15 18:57

    Why not use the LOTTO billions?

  • IcemanGP - 2012-05-15 19:27

    And yet our cANCer ministers drive around in million rand plus cars. Not sad, disgusting.

  • Roger - 2012-05-15 19:56

    "Without vision the people perish"

  • Koos - 2012-05-16 02:25

    Tennis is a minority sport, mostly played by the terrible whites. For that there are no funds but we'll pay R225mil to SAFA for another farce.

  • Theo Ferreira - 2012-05-16 06:42

    "tried everything"?! I don't recall seeing a open letter in the Sunday papers or on the radio for that matter requesting assistance from the public to raise the money for the tournament. That would a) raise enough money or b) be so embarrassing for the government that they would agree to fund the TSA. Overall, sad day for SA tennis for sure..

  • Blip - 2012-05-16 14:15

    Has Bongani Zonde ever played top tennis? Does he have a good network in the world of sponsorships? Has he a good history of doing deals and administering sport? If not, why does he hold the job?

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